Music to Our Ears

This is how much money Austin rakes in from SXSW

This is how much money Austin rakes in from SXSW

Spoon Auditorium Shores SXSW 2015
SXSW is on par with hosting the Super Bowl.  Photo by Tye Truitt

The 2017 edition of SXSW created an economic impact of $348.6 million — close to the economic impact of this year’s Super Bowl in Houston.

A study released Wednesday, September 27, found the economic impact of this year’s SXSW rose 7.2 percent versus $325.3 million in 2016. Economic development consulting firm Greyhill Advisors conducted the study for SXSW.

By comparison, this year’s Super Bowl in Houston generated an economic impact of $347 million, organizers reported in May.

Here in Austin, SXSW, held every March, remains the most profitable event for the local hospitality industry. 

“SXSW is one of the purest expressions of Austin because we thrive by being creative, providing a home to some of the biggest names in tech and film, and playing host to the best live music in the world,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler says in a release. “And even if you don’t come to the event, we all benefit. The economic impact of SXSW is on par with hosting the Super Bowl every year.”

The study also shows:

  • This year’s 14-day SXSW drew 440,000 participants.
  • The 2017 edition of SXSW resulted in 11,605 individual hotel reservations, totaling more than 50,000 room nights for SXSW registrants.
  • The value of SXSW media coverage this year totaled $572.3 million.

“SXSW continues to be an economic force in the city,” says Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Visit Austin. “More hotel room nights were booked for the 2017 conference and festivals than in previous years, resulting in longer stays and increased spending at our restaurants and other local attractions.”

SXSW is such an economic and cultural force, in fact, that boosters of the annual tech, film, and music festival defended it this summer against a congressional call for moving the event out of Texas in protest of the state’s controversial “sanctuary cities” law.

In a June 6 letter, U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat, asked SXSW organizers to consider relocating the festival in 2018 until the divisive law could be repealed or overturned.

In response, SXSW organizers rejected the request from Menendez and Masto.

“Austin is our home and an integral part of who we are. We will stay here and continue to make our event inclusive while fighting for the rights of all,” Roland Swenson, co-founder and CEO of SXSW, said.

The law, known as SB 4, currently is tied up in court. Federal judges have permitted parts of SB 4, aimed at beefing up immigration enforcement, to take effect.